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Miracle of Healing and Reconciliation

In April 1994, President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprian Ntayamira of Burundi were assassinated when their plane was shot down near the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The incident was followed by a wave of genocide during which the Hutus slaughtered the Tutsis. The month that followed was brutal and bloody.
Only this week did the investigation come to a close, citing scientific proof that cleared the current President of Rwanda Paul Kigame, of any responsibility for the attack.
Soon after the genocide, RENEW International was invited to work in Rwanda bringing training workshops and resources to parish leaders to establish small Christian communities where members gathered to pray, reflect on Scripture, share faith, and move to action. Bishop Kizito Bahujimihigo of Ruhengeri said of our work in Rwanda, “To my knowledge, RENEW International has contributed more to the process of reconciliation in Rwanda than any other group.”
One example of the miracle of healing and reconciliation comes from a small Christian community where the members became aware that two women, Sarah* and Elizabeth*, were not speaking. During the genocide, Elizabeth’s husband had killed Sarah’s. It is not unusual in Rwanda and in neighboring Burundi for victims of the genocide to see the perpetrators on a daily basis.
The members of the community began to pray about the situation and to reflect together. As a result, they decided to work to enable reconciliation between the two women. They invited both women to a meeting, thinking that even if the women did not want to have anything to do with one another they both could use the support of the community in their loss.
Foreseeing some tense moments when the two women would meet, the group gave each a different arrival time. Sarah arrived first and spent some time visiting with the other community members and learning more about their meetings. She liked the idea of the prayer and mutual support. But when Elizabeth appeared, Sarah became agitated and stood up to leave. David*, her nephew, went after her and convinced her to stay. “You don’t need to talk to her,” he said. “Just stay and listen to the Scripture, pray, and share faith with us.” When Elizabeth arrived and saw Sarah, she had a similar reaction, but another woman spoke quietly to her, and she changed her mind.
Weeks went by and the two women continued to come to community meetings. They found the members warm and welcoming, and they were supported by the prayer and sharing. After many meetings and much prayer, the two women were reconciled.
Sarah noticed that Elizabeth would be gone for a week or so at a time on a regular basis. One day she asked her, “I noticed you didn’t make our meeting last week. Were you ill?” Elizabeth explained that she went to take food to her husband in prison. As they chatted, she confided that it was hard for her to keep up with tending her crops, and she worried about her children when she was away. Sarah touched her hand, saying, “Don’t worry, I have time and I love children. I’ll go out to the field for you and see that your children are taken care of while you are gone.”
This is but one story about the power of Christ’s healing and forgiveness. This hillside community is one of many that are the hands, voice, and heart of Christ in the midst of pain and suffering.
(* Names changed)


Sister Marie is a member of the RENEW staff, a Sister of St. Joseph of Cluny, and the Project Leader for RENEW Africa.

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